Cleveland Business Connects

For immediate release (October 6, 2017) Media Contact: Judy Abelman Email: Phone: 440.725.8861...

By Ingrid Schaefer Sprague  |  Photo by Jim Baron

Adding to the significant advancements in the healthcare sector in Northeast Ohio, the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic have paired up to offer a new healthcare-focused executive master of business administration degree program starting this fall.

The Cleveland Clinic-CWRU EMBA will include instruction and practical experience in healthcare strategy, innovation, and leadership to and by professionals in the field. Both Weatherhead School faculty and Cleveland Clinic instructors with firsthand leadership experience are lined up to provide the specialized curriculum.

Simon Peck, the associate dean for MBA programs and associate professor in the Weatherhead School of Management Design and Innovation Department, says the average age of students enrolled in the EMBA program is about 40. These professionals have at least 10 years of management experience. The incumbent students are a diverse lot that includes physicians, surgeons, nurses, and some students from backgrounds in administration, finance, and technology.

“They are working professionals, not looking for internships,” Peck says.

As a program for professionals, the EMBA curriculum is set up as a 21-month residency format, with working professionals attending classes Thursday through Saturday once per month. Along with Peck, who will teach strategy, J.B. Silvers, the John R. Mannix Medical Mutual of Ohio Professor of Health Care Finance and Professor of Banking and Finance at the Weatherhead School of Management with a joint appointment in the School of Medicine, and Mark Votruba, associate professor of economics, will be instructing students. Additionally, coaches are allocated to students’ needs and in particular will mentor the EMBA students in the design project that they work on in the second year of the program.

“Coaching is an integral part of our Weatherhead EMBA,” Peck says.

Peck pitched the idea of a healthcare-focused EMBA program to key people, including Case Western Reserve University President Barbara R. Snyder and Cleveland Clinic Chief Executive Officer and President Delos “Toby” M. Cosgrove, MD. Following their approval, Peck collaborated with Cleveland Clinic Education Institute Chairman James “Jamie” Stoller, MD, to tailor the curriculum. Since its inception, Peck says interest in the program has been phenomenal.

“The program develops on our internationally ranked executive MBA program,” Peck says. “We have been working with colleagues at the Clinic, including the CEO, in order to shape the healthcare specific parts of the curriculum. We will have senior faculty from Cleveland Clinic to teach data analytics and will be drawing on expertise that is physician-led.”

Most hospital systems have significant physician leadership, Peck says, and this is ingrained at Cleveland Clinic. “These physicians have become nationally renowned in the system,” Peck says. “In an organization they need to develop new skills to manage hospital systems.

“The skills that got them to be renowned physicians are not the same as those needed to provide significant running of hospitals and institutes. That is typical and is not unique to healthcare. Whatever the students’ background, you tend to have a set of functional skills—engineering, finance, sales. You need new skills to lead new parts of organization.”

The unique challenges that business professionals face in the healthcare sector today involve a change in the business model that developed from the Affordable Care Act and the leadership necessary to navigate the new territory in reimbursement that it has created. Additionally, more women are likely to enter the field at higher levels of healthcare administration, Peck says.

“Leadership — particularly physician leadership of large complex organizations — is likely to become increasingly important, and we see this program addressing that need,” Peck says. “Many commentators anticipate that hospital systems will need to get either larger or more networked. Fundamentally, this change in the business model will require systems to become more focused on innovation, and these are skills that we know we can develop in future healthcare leaders.

“We’re selective about people we want in the program; there are certain experience requirements based on characteristics and people’s levels in organization. We are training them to be the next leaders. I can say the incoming class is nicely diverse with a broad number of women in (it). I believe 23 CEOs of S&P Fortune 500 companies are women. In the healthcare space there will be some fantastic women leaders in the incoming class — certainly more than 5 percent in the incoming class.”

The association between Weatherhead and Cleveland Clinic leading to the healthcare-focus EMBA was a natural fit for the two institutions, according to Peck. Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine is in a partnership with Case Western Reserve University, and construction of the new Health Education Campus that will house Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, and Francis Payne Bolton School of Nursing is scheduled to begin later this year.

“As a result of a number of joint projects going on between CWRU and Cleveland Clinic, including around the new medical campus, the time seemed right to promote the idea of a program focused on developing the next generation of healthcare leaders,” Peck says.

According to information about the program from Case Western Reserve University, “the degree’s distinction comes first from a unique combination of specialty courses in health-care strategy and economics, and, second, from those who will teach them: Weatherhead School faculty renowned for their scholarly expertise in health care, and Cleveland Clinic instructors with firsthand leadership experience in one of the nation’s top-ranked hospitals. The specialized curriculum was developed in response to dramatic growth in the health-care sector nationally and the number of Cleveland Clinic physicians and health-care professionals who have graduated from the management school’s traditional EMBA program. The opportunity to draw on the Weatherhead faculty’s expertise in healthcare as well as leading faculty from healthcare practice at the Clinic resulted in the joint program.” 

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